Natural disasters…. are you prepared?

The tsunami in Japan this week got me to thinking… it’s been about 10 years since a major earthquake rocked Seattle. Back then I only had cats, not kids. So my husband and I realized we had to establish an “Earthquake Plan” (PDF)

An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth’s surface. Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning, and they can occur at any time of the year, day or night. Forty-five states and territories in the United States are at moderate to very high risk of earthquakes, and they are located in every region of the country.

So far this morning I’ve learned a few things, but probably the one that stuck out the most is something that is OPPOSITE of what I was told many year ago: “Doorways are no stronger than any other part of the structure. During an earthquake, get under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on. This will provide some protection from falling objects that can injure you during an earthquake.”

But what happens if your home is damaged in an earthquake? Or if you live close to the coast and need to evacuate because of a threat of a tsunami? Or if you need to evacuate for some other disaster? The American Red Cross recommends that you have an emergency supply kit.

Be Red Cross Ready

from the Red Cross:
At a minimum, have the basic supplies listed below. Keep supplies in an easy to carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

Water—one gallon per person, per day (3 day supply for evacuation, 2 week supply for home)
Food—non perishable, easy to prepare items (3 day supply for evacuation, 2 week supply for home)
Battery powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
Extra batteries
First aid kit
Medications (7 day supply) and medical items
Multi purpose tool
Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
Cell phone with chargers
Family and emergency contact information
Extra cash
Emergency blanket
Map(s) of the area
Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
Games and activities for children
Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
Two way radios
Extra set of car keys and house keys
Manual can opener
Additional supplies to keep at home or in your kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

N95 or surgical masks
Rain gear
Work gloves
Tools/supplies for securing your home
Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
Plastic sheeting
Duct tape
Household liquid bleach
Entertainment items
Blankets or sleeping bags

Having a kit isn’t enough. Have a plan. Meet with household members (and coworkers!). Plan what to do if you are separated during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate.

Be informed of what natural disasters can occur in your area.

Most importantly, Let Your Family Know You’re Safe!
If your community has experienced a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Web site available through to let your family and friends know about your welfare. If you don’t have Internet access, call 1-866-GET-INFO to register yourself and your family.

Set aside time this weekend to make a plan and prepare a kit. DON’T bury the kit in the back of your garage. Keep it accessible. Stay safe.

About Kerri Jablonski

Kerri Jablonski AKA The Maven lives in Seattle,WA with her 3 kids (2008, 2010, 2013), husband, cats and backyard chickens. Two of her children have special needs. Kerri enjoys cooking, travel, movies and spending time with her family.


  1. It definitely makes you think!! We need to have a tornado plan in place!! Thanks so much for sharing the Red Cross info!!

  2. Jules from A Little Bite of Life says:

    Great tips, thank you! After 9/11 we made an emergency kit, and updated it every few years, but I do not think we have touched it since we moved back from CA…now that you brought this up, I will update it today, and add some of your suggestions that we did not have in it, such as a whistle, and bleach.

  3. Kristin Neudorfer says:

    Great reminder that I need to update our disaster pack…

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